NFL will 'vigorously' defend itself against Hernandez suit, cautions against making him a victim

NFL will 'vigorously' defend itself against Hernandez suit, cautions against making him a victim

The NFL intends to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit filed on behalf of Aaron Hernandez's family against the league and the Patriots. 

“We intend to contest the claim vigorously,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said at a media briefing Friday. 

Hernandez's lawyer, Jose Baez, announced the lawsuit Thursday and said tests at Boston University showed that the former Patriots tight end had a severe case of the degenerative brain disease CTE. 

NBC's Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes the league may argue that Hernandez’s rights already have been determined by the settlement of the class action concussion suit brought by former players. The NFL doesn’t yet know whether Hernandez was part of the class, or whether he opted out of it.

Lockhart cautioned against painting Hernandez as a victim. 

"His personal story is complex, it doesn’t lend itself to simple answers,” Lockhart said. “He was convicted of a homicide and his well-documented behavioral issues began long before he played in the National Football League. . . . The real victims are the friends and family of those he killed, along with his young daughter.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick's reaction to the Hernandez lawsuit story? "I'm not a doctor," he told reporters in Foxboro on Friday.

On the question of a link between concussions and CTE, Lockhart said science hasn't been able to connect the dots yet. 

“It’s a very complicated puzzle,” he said. “Every piece is important...There are a lot of dots here, and science just hasn’t been able to connect them.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Patriots-Steelers tale of the tape


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Patriots-Steelers tale of the tape

0:41 - The BST crew breaks down the Celtics’ 107-95 loss to the Utah Jazz. A. Sherrod Blakely joins Tom Giles from the TD Garden and Michael Holley and Kayce Smith analyze Gordon Hayward’s pregame comments about his recovery and return.

8:07 - Do Bill Belichick and the Patriots attempt to shut down Le'Veon Bell or Antonio Brown this weekend against the Steelers? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss and Phil Perry and Kayce Smith break down the matchup with this week’s tale of the tape.

14:36 - The Red Sox watched another slugger get scooped up, as the Philadelphia Phillies signed Carlos Santana. Michael Holley, Kayce Smith and Tom Giles discuss Boston’s interest in still-available J.D. Martinez and how much he could cost the club.

Injury report: Branch out, 10 Patriots questionable


Injury report: Branch out, 10 Patriots questionable

The Patriots final injury report before their showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday includes 10 players listed as questionable and defensive lineman Alan Branch ruled out.

Branch, who hurt his knee in the Monday night loss to the Dolphins, missed three days of practice this week. Among the questionable are linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive lineman Trey Flowers, who didn't play against Miami. Tom Brady (Achilles), Brandon Cooks (hand) and Malcolm Butler (ankle) have been removed from the injury report. 

Cornerback Joe Haden (fibula) and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) among the Steelers listed as questionable. The full injury report: